The Glass Ceiling in the House

Why is a queen of Travancore, who championed for the minorities, the women, the entrepreneurs and Dalits,  never extolled by the people or the historians? What is the background of Raja Ravi Varma, the famous painter?

The details of all the above was  explained by Nirmala aunty and Sasi uncle in their review of the book “The Ivory Throne ,  Chronicle of the House of Travancore “ written by Manu. S. Pillai.

Why is Kerala a matrilineal society?

Women in Kerala and  in West Bengal have family properties transferred to their name. Women are empowered and make important decisions. Why is this so? Why does it not happen in other parts of India? The reason: Because of constant wars in these places, the life span of the men was less. Men lived an average of 30 years or less, due to constant killing, whereas women lived for more than 60 years. Therefore, it was better to entrust major responsibilities and property matters to women.

The book also details about how Vasco Da Gama, use divide and rule policy and removed the Zamorins (Kings of power) from power.

What fascinated me was Manu S. Pillai had worked on this book for six years and completed this masterpiece by the age of 25. I also came to know that black magic was practised in Kerala.

Overall understanding an account of history is a tedious exercise but I was captivated by Nirmala aunt’s use of words and Sasi uncle’s persona.

Meeting with the Counsel General of South Korea

I met Mr.Kyungsoo Kim , Consulate General of South Korea  at a meeting organised by CII at PLA Hotel, Trichy On 29th October 29th .

What did I learn from him?

1.       4000 expatriates from South Korea live in Chennai.

2.       South Koreans love golf.

3.       There are 70 ancillary industries which supply parts to Hyundai in Chennai. These companies also export their products.

4.       Korea is very strong in ship building and petrochemical industries.

5.       The Koreans are very hard working people, primarily agriculturalist. Their slogan in ‘KORANDO’, which means Koreans, can do.

What does the Counsel General admire about India?

1.       He admires our culture and our way of living.

2.       He shared his admiration for Aravind Eye Hospital, Madurai, which does eye surgery for the weakest section of society at no cost.

3.       He was very positive about the progress taking place in Trichy and Tamil Nadu and mentioned about G. K. Industries and the industrial hub in Nagapattinam.

Question he was asked.

1.       One gentleman asked him to provide technology for manufacturing jaggery. I was slightly dismayed that a country with a population of 1300 million with the largest number of engineers and technocrats would need support from a small country with a population less than half of Tamil Nadu for the manufacture of even jaggery.

2.       I had come across an article which mentioned that 50% of the children between the age of 12 and 19 wish to commit suicide. I found this percentage staggering. When I asked the Counsel why this was so, he replied that the parents sacrifice all their resources to bring up their child and the children were obligated to live up to the expectation of their parents.

With intense competition among the Koreans many of the children would not be able to meet their parents’ demands. I personally feel that this kind of stress should not amount to suicide.

Bhutan, the world’s first carbon negative country

On 18/9/2016, Suresh uncle, who was a teacher and a resident of Bhutan, gave an awareness program on Bhutan. Two of his Bhutanese students, who are currently in Coimbatore, drove all their way to give our students insight into their country. Listed below are the points I gathered from them.

1.       This country is called Drugale, the land of thunder dragon and sandwiched between India and China.

2.       Bhutan is a monarchy and people are proud of their kings. The 2nd king’s birthday is commemorated by planting two saplings. The 3rd king promoted education and the 4th king is the father of modern Bhutan.

3.       The Bhutanese has gold, which denotes secularism, a dragon, which denotes purity and jewels, which denotes health.

4.       There is a peculiar animal in Bhutan called Tankin, which is a hybrid of a cow and a goat.

5.       They biggest peak is Mt. Jomolhari. Tiger is their national animal and they have 108 stupas in their country.

6.       Dress denotes what section of the society they belong to. Yellow robes are worn only by king and religious head. Orange by their ministers and white by the common man.

7.       Bejra is the ancient Buddhist dance.

8.       Timpu airport is one of the most treacherous airports in the world and only eight pilots have the licence to land the plane in it.

9.       Bhutan was the first country in the world to lay aside GDP and promote GNH (Gross National Happiness). This is the only country in the world which gives importance to happiness, then their growth.

The four main points they focus on are

I.            Sustainable economic growth

II.            Preservation of environment

III.            Good governance

IV.            Preservation of culture

Suresh uncle told us that the king gave him a coronation coin which he cherishes. Uncle showed us the coin. In fact, he gave me a lovely bag from Bhutan as a gift: The reason: He observed that I was the only person in the crowd who took notes.

E. Sridharan, Immanuel Kant and Actor Suriya Sivakumar

E. Sridharan, Immanuel Kant and Actor Suriya Sivakumar

31st of October , 2016 was a memorable day. Thanks to the MAM college team, I was able to participate in  inter- school competitions. I performed beyond my expectations and won coveted Ms. Mamaria prize.  I had brief interaction with Actor Surya on stage. Initially, I was very nervous in the presence of Surya. Right words did not come out of my mouth. Then I became alert, composed myself and communicated well. Mr. Surya was a good listener, open minded and warm.

What ruffled me was the unruly behaviour of the crowd. They were delirious, raving and hysterical as if God had stepped into their space. As we were leaving the college, I overheard some of them saying, “I touched his hair”, “I touched his shirt”, “I touched his hand” as if it was the greatest achievement of their life. What gives people the right to tread into somebody’s privacy? Does not Actor Surya also need his own space?

As we were going back I started pampering my father with these questions. He remarked that our society is a movie centric and cricket centric society. Had Mr. Sridharan, the metro man of India, who built the Pamban bridge and Delhi metro in record time, walked into any institution, how many would even recognise him?

Later at home, we had discussions on the excerpts of Immanuel Kant’s book ‘Critique of Pure Reason’. Kant mentions that men are rational, capable of controlling their impulses and being moralistic. This according to him is the greatest freedom. He calls this man an autonomous man.

An analogy to this would be Lord Krishna, driving the chariot and controlling the horses. We are analogous to the chariot and the horses analogous to our senses. Lord Krishna is our higher self, the rational human being.

The other man according to Immanuel Kant is the heteronymous man, the man who is impulsive and purely controlled by pleasure and pain.

Isn’t heteronomy the reason for:

  1. The global warming, the destruction of our lakes, animals, heritage and our planet?
  2. Greed in people where everyone wants to accumulate more and pretend as though they are successful?
  3. Bursting of crackers in spite of increasing PM 2.5 in air which causes cancer?
  4. A crowd mobbing an actor instead of being dignified?

I think right education (not in the current context) is the only remedy to the greater society.

Quizzing at its Best

Quizzing at its Best

On the 8th of November, I attended a quiz conducted by Barry O’Brien. The quiz was organised by students of BIM. I was amazed at the knowledge exhibited by the participants.

There was a round where advertisements of two products were mixed and shown. Bingo chips and Britannia were put in one basket, so was Kit Kat and Alpenlibe. The participants answered them in a flash.

Next was the round of questions:

What is a toehold purchase?

Here the shareholder purchases less than 5% of the companies stocks, which still gives him a say in the company’s affairs.

What are jiffy bags?

They are padded bags to protect fragile items when sent by post.

Then there was an interesting one,

 What is affluenza?

It is a disease among the rich which makes them guilty and lack motivation.

I also liked the question,

Who is a zero drag employee?

An ideal employee who has no family and social contacts and would be able to contribute all his energy towards the growth of the company.

It was a great evening and I came out full of knowledge and information. Mr. Barry O’Brien offered me a bouquet for answering a question and appreciated me for writing the book. He is the younger brother of the famous politician and quizzer Derek O’Brien. I have made a resolve to become a good quizzer.

A Meet with the Veteran

A Meet with the Veteran

Tete–a–Tete with Mr. Srinivasan K Swami, Chairman, R K Swamy BBDO Associates. Recently,  I attended the YI summit in Trichy which was organised by students from BIM. The speaker, Mr. Srinivasan was an excellent raconteur. He weaved a wonderful story on how many products got revived at the end of their product life cycle. He shared with us how P&G reduced its portfolio to 1/3rd and started focusing on billion dollar brands. He spoke about Neil McElroy  who pioneered the concept brand management.

He related the coke story. Coke in the 50s talked about benefits, in the 70s about symbols and in the 90s about experience. This brand has stood the test of time. He gave examples how some brands rejuvenated themselves.

Lifebuoy saw its market share dip from 27% to 11%, but it’s AD campaign on saving lives from diarrhoea increased its market share. Colgate saw its share plummet from 65% to 48% because of the onslaught of Uniliver but with the slew of product launches it has been able to get back to 55%. Currently it is facing  threat fromPanthanjali’s Dant Kanthi. Mercedes-Benz which was considered as a car for older people transformed its image through  slick advertising.

Then Mr. Srinivasan also shared the story of Snickers and Voltas. One great idea I picked up was  owned media, earned media and paid media. Owned media is to  create your own website while  Earned media is to  do your publicity campaign in newspapers and TV channels. Paid media is as a last step  to pay to get yourself advertised.

I met Mr. Srinivasan during lunch time. He was fun, loving and I could easily connect with him. I gave him a copy of my book which he promised to go through and give me a feedback.

I shook hands with Nelson Mandela

How do you feel if you could meet face to face with one of the greatest men ever to have walked on this planet? On Sunday evening (27th  November) I had a wonderful conversation with a retired journalist with 30 years of international experience, Ms. Kamatchy Sappani. She was a very energetic, bright-eyed woman who has a world of knowledge.

She shared with me about her experiences in Japan, Scandinavian countries and United States.

This globe trotter gave me a wonderful tip: When I said that my desire is to be a politician, she suggested that I study in Scandinavian countries. Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden and Finland) have the best political systems, governance, health care and education. These systems have to be adopted in India.

She met numerous personalities. One of them was Julius Neyrere. When she met this world renowned personality, she was surprised to find him short, old and frail. This was the same man who was centre stage of politics a few years before then. When she asked him why Tanzania was a member of the commonwealth inspite of the atrocities committed on them by the British? He replied that he found the charm, gentle mannerism and the aura of Queen Elizabeth too difficult to resist. He had no other option but to join the commonwealth.

Ms. Kamatchy described Queen Elizabeth as a gutsy woman who drove ambulances and participated in the 2nd World War.

When I asked her about her greatest experiences, she mentioned that it was her stay with tribals in the jungles of Borneo. These tribals had no property or belongings. They never accumulated food and lived only from meal to meal. What would our civilization do when we go to catch fish? They would fill their boats and store fish for months to come. Most of the fish would then rot. What do these tribals do? They catch just one fish for that meal. Now tell me who is more civilised?

Would our civilised hunters bother if an animal is pregnant and avoid killing it? The tribals have a rule ‘No pregnant animal should be killed’. Now who is more civilised?

The tribals don’t cut trees. Cutting trees increases the toxicity of the lake and kills the fishes. Now readers tell me who knows more about environmental science. The ‘uncivilised’ tribals or we ‘civilised’ people. These tribals sleep on bamboo platforms erected on top of bamboo shoots. Why bamboo? Because it grows again. Can we the ‘civilised’ people take a leaf out of their book.

Ms. Kamatchy said that these tribals live in the present that Eckhart Tolle and other gurus talk about. I think we the civilised people need to learn lessons from these tribals on how to avoid pomposity, greed, jealousy and misery.

I wished I could take her hands as a souvenir. Yes! She shook hands with NELSON MANDELA. In a journalist meet he stepped towards her held her hands for a long long time. He asked her where she was from. She replied, India. He gazed into her eyes for a long  time and smiled. What thoughts flashed in this man’s mind who fought his whole life against apartheid is anybody’s guess?

Following Your Bliss

Following Your Bliss

Author Joseph Campbell often talked about ‘following your bliss’. There is this bus driver in Chicago who does just that. He sings while he drives. That’s right… sings! And he doesn’t sing.

Softly to himself either. He sings so loudly that the whole bus can hear! All day long he drives and sings.

He was once interviewed on Chicago television. He said that he is not actually a bus driver. “I’m a professional singer,” he asserted. “I only drive the bus to get a captive audience every single day.”

His “bliss” is not driving a bus, though that may be a source of enjoyment for some people. His bliss is singing. And the supervisors at the Chicago Transit Authority are perfectly happy with the whole arrangement. You see, people queue up to ride his bus. They even let other buses pass by so that they can ride with the “singing bus driver.” They just love it!

Here is a man who believes he knows exactly why he is here on earth. For him, it is to make people happy. And the more he sings, the more people he makes happy! He has found a way to align his purpose in living with his occupation. By following his bliss, he is actually living the kind of life he believes he was meant to live.

Not everybody can identify a purpose in life. But when you do, and when you pursue it, you will be living the kind of life you feel you were meant to live. And what’s more, you will be happy.

Have a happy day